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Opinions of Monday, 24 August 2020

Columnist: Florence Afriyie Mensah

Strictly enforcing road traffic laws, we will all arrive alive

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The movement of goods, services and people from one place to another, is very important in any economic activity and social lives of people in every society.

Good and efficient transport infrastructure is a necessity in any society working to promote development and transform the socio-economic lives of its people.

Regrettably in Ghana, one of the biggest challenges facing the people is poor road infrastructure which has caused several road accidents resulting in fatalities and injuries to many people as well as damages to properties.

Over the years, many people have lost their lives through avoidable road clashes while others are maimed as a result of accidents.

Most children have now lost hope and become wayward due the loss of their parents through road accidents, while families have torn apart as a result of road accidents.

Travelling by road in Ghana is very dangerous and stressful for many people.

This is because you will never know whether you were going to arrive alive.

Some of the major contributory factors to road accidents in Ghana are the poor nature of roads, carelessness on the part of drivers and other road users, faulty vehicles, stress, unskilled and inexperienced driving, poor and inadequate road signs, over-speeding, lack of thorough education on road signs and their use, drunkenness, gross indiscipline, among others.

Wrong pedestrians crossing on roads, poor maintenance of vehicles, mechanical problems, unfavourable weather conditions are also contributory factors to road clashes.

In Ghana, it is estimated that 70 percent of road users are vulnerable to road clashes. Of this figure, 40 per cent are pedestrians, while 18 percent are cyclists and motorists.

This frightening situation in my view could be reversed if all stakeholders would be responsible for the discharge of their duties.

Road traffic law enforcement is very key in this endeavor.

Now, the question is, whose responsibility is it to ensure that we all arrive alive?

The answer is everybody- passengers, pedestrians, drivers, motor riders and those walking along road shoulders.

However, the Police, National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and the media, have key responsibility to ensure that sanity prevails on the roads to reduce the carnage.

The best traffic enforcement in modern day Ghana required evidence-based and skilled professionals to ensure that traffic rules and regulations are obeyed by all.

It must be driven by data so as to be able to point out the main causes of road crashes.

In a recent interaction with Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) David Agyemang Adjem, the Deputy Ashanti Regional Police Commander, he indicated that the Ashanti Region had the highest statistics in terms of road crashes.

He pointed out that one person loses his or her life every day in the Ashanti Region through road accidents, adding that, the Region records a minimum of eight (8) road accidents everyday with 11 people sustaining various degrees of injuries.

The Ashanti Region had at the end of the first half of 2020, recorded a total of 1,921 road traffic accidents. Out of this number, 224 died and 1,728 sustained various degrees of injuries.

This figure according to the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) is the highest for the period and it is unacceptable.

DCOP Adjem is of the view that although the police was in close partnership with stakeholders to tackle road crashes, education must be extended to the ordinary Ghanaian to play safe when using the roads.

The NSRA, which is an authority mandated to develop, promote, co-ordinate and regulate all road safety issues in the country, has taken up the initiative to partner the media to intensify road safety campaigns in the country.

The “Arrive Alive” campaign, according to Mrs. May Obiri Yeboah, Director General of NRSA, aims at using enforcement and education to change road users’ behavior and advocacy to reduce laxity among policy makers and implementers.

Again, the NRSA has been supporting institutions like the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service with various traffic enforcement equipment and training to bring the high records of accidents in the country to a minimum.

Mrs. Obiri Yeboah reiterated that several steps have been taken over the years to improve road safety in the country, road traffic casualties remained a public health burden at all levels.

As the 2020 electioneering campaign is gradually gathering momentum across the country, there is the need for intensification of the “Arrive Alive” campaign to ensure that people take extreme caution and adhere strictly to all road traffic rules and regulations.

This is the only way to reduce fatalities and get everybody to vote on 7th December 2020.

A stitch in time, they say saves nine. All hands must be on deck to amplify road safety campaigns in our communities.